A Remake of The Wizard of Oz Is Officially in the Works
It’s been more than 80 years since the Judy Garland-starring adaptation of The Wizard of Oz first hit theaters in 1939, which means it was really only a matter of time before Hollywood decided to make it again. According to Variety, that’s finally happening.
Though it’s still too early for whispers to circulate about who might don the ruby red slippers—or any tin, fur, or straw—this time around, we do know who’ll be directing those characters down the yellow brick road: Nicole Kassell, whose past directorial credits include episodes of Watchmen, The Leftovers, and The Americans.
“While the 1939 musical is part of my DNA, I am exhilarated and humbled by the responsibility of re-imagining such a legendary tale,” Kassell said in a statement. “The opportunity to examine the original themes—the quest for courage, love, wisdom, and home—feels more timely and urgent than ever. These are profoundly iconic shoes to fill, and I am eager to dance alongside these heroes of my childhood as we pave a newly minted yellow brick road!”
It's worth noting that the most famous version of The Wizard of Oz is, itself, a remake. L. Frank Baum's original novel was adapted several times prior to 1939 during the silent film era. A 1910 movie, which is believed to have been directed by Otis Turner, is the only earlier adaptation that is still known to exist.
Kassell’s commitment to adapting Baum’s magical story in a way that pays homage to Victor Fleming's iconic film hopefully won’t extend to reusing any old makeup techniques. The aluminum powder used as Buddy Ebsen’s Tin Man makeup obstructed his airways and landed him in the hospital; and Wicked Witch of the West actor Margaret Hamilton sustained severe burns when her copper-based green makeup caught on fire during a shoot. Maybe, if we’re lucky, the studio will bring the Cowardly Lion to life using the digital fur technology from 2019’s Cats.
News of the remake will no doubt irk longtime The Wizard of Oz fans, along with anyone who feels like the entertainment industry’s penchant for reboots is getting a little out of hand. That said, this won’t be the first time we’ve seen someone put a new spin on Oz. There was The Wiz (1978), based on a Broadway musical; and Sam Raimi's Oz: The Great and Powerful (2013). Gregory Maguire fleshed out the Wicked Witch’s backstory in a book series, which then spawned another Broadway musical, Wicked. (That, too, is getting the film treatment.)